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Diversity 2011, 3(3), 405-423; doi:10.3390/d3030405

Novel Genetic Diversity Through Somatic Mutations: Fuel for Adaptation of Reef Corals?

1
Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB 3, Townsville MC, Queensland 4810, Australia
2
School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4814, Australia
3
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4814, Australia
4
AIMS@JCU, Australian Institute of Marine Science, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4814, Australia
5
Australian Institute of Marine Science, UWA Oceans Institute (M096), 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 June 2011 / Revised: 26 July 2011 / Accepted: 27 July 2011 / Published: 12 August 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coral Reef Diversity: Climate Change and Coral Reef Degradation)
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Abstract

Adaptation of reef corals to climate change is an issue of much debate, and often viewed as too slow a process to be of relevance over decadal time scales. This notion is based on the long sexual generation times typical for some coral species. However, the importance of somatic mutations during asexual reproduction and growth on evolution and adaptation (i.e., cell lineage selection) is rarely considered. Here we review the existing literature on cell lineage selection and show that the scope for somatic mutations to arise in the coral animal and associated Symbiodinium is large. For example, we estimate that ~100 million somatic mutations can arise within a branching Acropora coral colony of average size. Similarly, the large population sizes and rapid turn-over times of in hospite Symbiodinium likely result in considerable numbers of somatic mutations. While the fate of new mutations depends on many factors, including ploidy level and force and direction of selection, we argue that they likely play a key role in the evolution of reef corals. View Full-Text
Keywords: coral; Symbiodinium; adaptation; somatic mutations; cell lineage selection; climate change coral; Symbiodinium; adaptation; somatic mutations; cell lineage selection; climate change
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Van Oppen, M.J.H.; Souter, P.; Howells, E.J.; Heyward, A.; Berkelmans, R. Novel Genetic Diversity Through Somatic Mutations: Fuel for Adaptation of Reef Corals? Diversity 2011, 3, 405-423.

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